Case Western Reserve to receive more than $3M from NIDA

May 08, 2009

CLEVELAND - May 8, 2009 - The Center for Proteomics and Bioinformatics and the Case Center for AIDS Research at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have a received a $989,108 grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institute of Health (NIH), with the ability to receive a total of $3,007,946 by 2011. The grant will allow the Center for Proteomics and Bioinformatics to expand its activities in the HIV/AIDS area, which already represents approximately 30 percent of its projects, while providing the Center for AIDS Research an opportunity to introduce advanced proteomic technology into its research portfolio. Together, the centers will study the effects of drug use on the biology of HIV/AIDS.

The new grant, over three years of funding (2009: $989,108; 2010: $1,004,415; 2011: $1,014,423), will allow the development of reliable proteomic and epigenetic biomarkers (certain proteins that can be measured as an indicator of or to better understand the progression of a disease) for chronic immune activation during HIV disease and it will help the Centers better understand the effects of current or prior drug use and Hepatitis C-co infection (HCV) on disease progression and therapy. The grant also will provide funding for technology development in proteomics and systems biology research tools, further cementing existing collaborative relationships between CFAR investigators at the School of Medicine, the Dental school, the Louis Stokes VA hospital and investigators at the Center for Proteomics and Bioinformatics.

"There is a pressing need to obtain objective measurements of how HIV disease progresses and to investigate whether drug abuse alters the course of HIV disease," said Jonathan Karn, chair of the Department of Molecular Biology & Microbiology, director of the Case Center for AIDS Research (CFAR), and co-PI on the study. "Currently patients under HAART (anti-viral) therapy show a wide range of clinical outcomes, but physicians lack reliable indicators of how HIV disease progresses."

The AIDS Clinical Trials Unit, through the School of Medicine and University, provides both centers ample access to specimens needed to conduct this study.

"We will develop several pilot projects in collaboration with the CFAR investigator team to explore the proteomes of patients who have HIV or HCV, who may be on anti-retroviral therapy, and who may be drug users or in drug treatment programs," said Mark Chance, director, Center for Proteomics and Bioinformatics and lead PI of the study. "At the same time, specific changes in genes or epigenetic changes will also be explored. A Proteomics and Bioinformatics core will support these pilot projects with study design and biostatistical expertise, proteomics services, and systems biology data analysis."

During the pilot phase, the Center will fund and coordinate a set of inter-related projects designed to provide a better understanding of the impact on immune function and activity in HIV-infected individuals who are also exposed to addictive drugs, and the importance of viral HCV. In each of these projects there will be a direct examination of the proteomic responses in either cells lining the digestive tract or immune cells and parallel examination of plasma readouts from affected patients.

The data will be rationalized using techniques to identify specific inflammatory pathways that are activated. Technologies for analyzing epigenetic changes in the immune system will be developed, with a goal of being able to correlate changes in the genome with those in the proteome. The ultimate goal of these projects will be the development of informative biomarkers and methods that can be used in large-scale population studies to further evaluate the impact of drug use on HIV disease.

"We are delighted to be able to initiate new research in this area and welcome the innovative leadership that NIDA is providing to study of the molecular basis of the interactions between drug use and HIV disease," said Chance. "This grant is important from an institutional perspective as well because it will introduce Case's advanced proteomics and systems biology capacities to NIDA, and provide investigators who are currently studying HIV/AIDS with an excellent opportunity to identify and study their drug abuse cohorts."

Needle sharing and/or impaired decision-making resulting from intoxication that can lead to risky sexual behaviors, often lead drug users to contract HIV/AIDS; the number of HIV patients who use or have used drugs is 10-30 percent. Better approaches to understanding their HIV/AIDS progression and developing treatments specific to their conditions is a specific goal of the research.
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About Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Founded in 1843, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is the largest medical research institution in Ohio and is among the nation's top medical schools for research funding from the National Institutes of Health. The School of Medicine is recognized throughout the international medical community for outstanding achievements in teaching. The School's innovative and pioneering Western Reserve2 curriculum interweaves four themes--research and scholarship, clinical mastery, leadership, and civic professionalism--to prepare students for the practice of evidence-based medicine in the rapidly changing health care environment of the 21st century. Eleven Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with the school.

Annually, the School of Medicine trains more than 770 M.D. and M.D./Ph.D. students and ranks in the top 25 among U.S. research-oriented medical schools as designated by U.S. News and World Report "Guide to Graduate Education."

The School of Medicine's primary clinical affiliate is University Hospitals Case Medical Center and is additionally affiliated with MetroHealth Medical Center, the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Cleveland Clinic, with which it established the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University in 2002. http://casemed.case.edu.

Case Western Reserve University

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